in Zimbabwe for two of the Big Five!
the end of August 2004 I went out to South Africa on a Big
5 hunt accompanied by 6 friends, Raul Lanzotti, Roberto
Lanzotti, Ruben Delgreco, Ruben Sternari and our ammunitions
expert, Rodolfo Delpino who had reloaded all of our hunting
rounds in various calibres and with which we had very good
results in the past. The whole group, except myself, remained
in South Africa where they hunted a large range of Antelope
species. On the morning of the 5th September my great friend,
South African , Lambert van Staden and myself departed from
Johannesburg International Airport and headed to Harare,
the capital of Zimbabwe. After clearing customs and immigration
and paying all the necessary duties, we boarded a 4 seater
charter plane and flew 1 1/4 hours north to the confluence
of the three borders between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.
landed at the hunting camp's bush strip and prepared ourselves
for hunting of the Big Five during the next 15 days. Lambert
had already organised the permits for Sable, Buffalo and
the most crafty master of the big five (in my opinion),
first day we checked out the camp surrounds and our very
comfortable accommodation consisting of canvas tents sheltered
beneath thatch roofing to keep cool. All the tents had mosquito
nets which were a live saver because without them we probably
would not have survived. I never imagined to find so many
many mosquitos, bothersome sand flies and the so called
tsetse fly which packs a sting and from dusk to dawn you
need to be on the lookout for. We found out before the trip
that this area was endemic to malaria and polio and so we
took all the necessary vaccinations and precautions against
the second day we hunted for a zebra to use as bait for
the leopard. On the third day I hunted a very nice Sable
antelope from which the meat was also used to continue setting
up 7 different bait sites where we had come across leopard
spoor. This took the whole day as the concession is some
300 000 hectares in extent. The concession is bordered by
the Anwa River in the West and the Mozambique border in
the North. The Hunyuni River divides the concession into
two and is a tributary of the Zambesi River 35km to the
05h30 the next morning we loaded up the Jeep and went to
examine the baits. Three had been eaten the previous night.
The trackers showed me that the first had been eaten by
a female and her cub, the second by a lone male that had
eaten little and moved off, obviously distrusting something.
Furthermore there was not a suitable area to set up a hide.
The third bait had been eaten by both a female and a medium
to large male and we decided that this would be a suitable
site to set up a hide and shooting platform to wait for
the cats that night.
it was in the middle of the day and the temperature was
a scorching 36 degrees (night time is still a warm 20 degrees),
we decided to find some shade, take on some food and refreshments
and catch a quick 1 hour siesta.
After our break the trackers begun building a hide and platform
using poles with a roof covering of leaves and branches.
The hide was finished at 4pm and our PH recommended that
we keep making any noise speaking and to a minimum because
the leopards normally start patroling their area at this
time. My PH, Lambert and I climbed into the hide whilst
the three trackers moved away from the area in the Jeep.
The bait was approximately 40m from the hide and at around
6pm the sun set and the hyena's began calling.
remained in the hide in anticipation and communicated with
hand signals. At 9:30pm Lambert saw movement at the bait
in the semi-darkness and we listened very carefully. After
a couple of minutes, my possible prey could be heard clearly
eating. The wind was in our favour and Lambert indicated
that I should get ready as he was going to light up the
bait. Once switched on, there was a prime male at the bait
and Lambert ordered "shoot".
this point everything happened in such a hurry that it is
difficult to describe. The cat was broadside to me, I placed
the bead on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. I briefly
lost sight of the shot from my .375H & H and when I
lined up again I could see my prize leopard hanging over
the fork of the tree. My PH slapped my back and said "Well
done". I was at a loss for words - I did not know whether
to shout or run around in joy. Lambert said to me that was
a good leopard hunt and for the next 40 minutes we laughed
and talked, took photographs and video. We loaded the trophy
and took 1 1/2 hours to return to camp where we had a huge
party with wine and beer until dawn the next day.
days later I hunted a very good buffalo which is my second
to date. I have already two of the big 5 and I am determined
to return next year and hunt for one of the remaining 3.
the 15 days at this concession I saw many different species
of animals including elephant, crocodile, hippo, zebra,
kudu, baboon, bush-pig, warthog as well as a large variety
conclusion I would like to say I am very grateful to my
wife and son who take care of our family business in order
that I can pursue my passion for hunting.